Boyhood is playing at Nightlight Cinema through November 6. For showtimes visit Nightlight Cinema’s website.
Richard Linklater charted the evolution of a relationship over the course of three films with his beloved Before series; now the filmmaker ups the ante with this bold, brilliant experiment in time-lapse cinema. In 2002, Linklater started constructing a fictional story centered on a six-year-old boy named Ellar Coltrane. For 12 years, Linklater, Coltrane, actors Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette and several nonprofessionals (including the director’s daughter Lorelei) got together once a year, working out a loose storyline and incorporating his young star’s experiences into the mix. Stepdads come and go; ditto a girlfriend. Time is marked by fluctuating weights and heights, as well as a jukebox’s worth of pop songs. Not much happens…just life, in all its messy glory. A boy becomes a man before one’s very eyes. The result is nothing short of a masterpiece, an extraordinary collaborative gamble that succeeds in charting the rocky terrain of childhood like no other movie. Linklater puts his laissez-faire style of filmmaking to perfect use here, dropping in seemingly random snapshots of young adulthood and turning the “banal” moments of American adolescence—hanging out with friends, talking trash, working wage-slave jobs—into something transcendental. It’s impossible not to watch Coltrane go from baby-faced kid to emo-brooding teen without thinking about one’s own journey. They—and we—grow up so fast. —David Fear